Stretching their wings

A fresh new season is donning the green and will be dancing on our doorstep within the week. Spring arrives Friday, as a welcome sun stirs our world from its winter stupor and opens the door to the phenomenon known as migration.

Feathers seem to be common to the most mobile creatures on earth. The book of Job asks "Doth the hawk fly by Thy wisdom and stretch her wings toward the South?" It's noted in Jeremiah that "The stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed time, and the turtle dove and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming."

Yet no less than the eminent Aristotle in ancient Greece was convinced that birds hibernated, alleging that swallows and similar birds congregated in great flocks to submerge in muddy marshes, not unlike turtles and frogs, and peacefully sleep the winter away.

One "Person of Learning and Piety" described how "swallows would fly to the moon and there spend the winter." Another charming notion is an Indian tale of hummingbirds hitching rides on the backs of geese to migrate over wide stretches of water. When the first wild goose of spring appears in the land of the Eskimos, it's cause for a grand welcoming festival.

The final moon of winter is fading. Could it really be that the swallows have awakened there and are winging their way back to Earth? It's a nice dream.